Susan Ye Laird, poetry magazine, poetry translations
 Translations
     with S. Ye Laird

Kenneth Rexroth 王红公 (1905 - 1982)  “The Poet As Translator“

--  that the translation of poetry into poetry is an act of sympathy--the identification of another person with oneself, the transference of his utterance to one's own utterance. The ideal translator, as we all know well, is not engaged in matching the words of a text with the words of his own language. He is hardly even a proxy, but rather an all-out advocate. His job is one of the most extreme examples of special pleading. So the prime criterion of successful poetic translation is assimilability. Does it get across to the jury?

In the summer of 1951,  famed writer/playwright Laoshe 老舍 (1899 - 1966)  visited the home of  world famous Chinese watercolor painter Qi Baishi 齐白石 (1864 - 1957). Previously, Laoshe has written to Qi a couple lines from two poets of early Qing dynasty he admired ( 查慎行 & 赵执信), to ignite Qi's artistic interest to 'translate' words into his own art form.

Here's the genesis of the later most well-known watercolor work by Qi, entitled  "蛙声十里出山泉". It is said that it took the master painter three days and three nights to re-create an imagery that most faithfully reflecting the given line, by the playwright/writer Laoshe.  In order to see the whole picture, I  located two poems and translated four lines from one for our readership here, to fathom why a masterpiece becomes a masterpiece in that oriental world of my birth country.  

Fireflies chase the first rising star,

         by grassy river bank。

Frogs croaking miles after miles,

          outrun the mountain stream

New verse no longer rhymes with old habits

Able man with good resolve is rare,

                             

            and not so easy to come up。

查慎行 《次实君溪边步月䪨》

 

萤火一星沿岸草

蛙声十里出山泉

新诗未必能谐俗

解事人稀莫浪传。

赵执信 《七夕示内一绝句》

                

 香濃燈暗立秋庭

 近月㣲茫欲辨星

 窺盡風情是烏鵲

 人間空自媚丹青。

梁宗岱诗集《芦笛风》*

-- 程家惠,程晟 译

水调歌头

序 曲

 

人生岂局促?

与子且高歌。

浩然一曲冲破

地网与天罗。

给我一枝芦笛,

为汝星回斗转,

冰海变柔波。

哀乐等闲耳!

生死复如何?

浮与沉,

明或暗,

任予和。

钓夫一笑相视,

认我与同科。

看取沙中世界,

更见花中天国,

同异尽消磨:

君掌握无限,

千古即刹那。

 

Water Tune

Prelude

Isn’t life a river slow and long?

With you I sing a song,

A toll to break through all woe

With nets above and snares below.

Give me a reed flute

TO make for you all stars fly off their route,

And turn the icy seas

Into soft waves of breeze.

Why bother with joy or sorrow,

And life today or death tomorrow?


 

Up and down, day and night,

Freely I fly as a swallow.

Giving me a knowing smile,

The fishing man sees me as his fellow.

To see a world in a grain of sand,

And a heaven in a flower of mallow.

All will wither and fade

Be it red or yellow.

Hold infinity in hand,

And eternity in the hollow.

*梁宗岱Liang Zongdai (1903 - 1983) was a Chinese poet and translator, developed personal friendship with Romain Rolland &  Paul Valéry during his student years in France and Germany ~1924 - 1930.  This collection of 50 traditional songs (ci词 ) and 6 sonnets in "Reed Flute Breeze" was first published around 1944, his coming to terms on love as sacrificial act when our poet decided to leave his second wife, a good and intellectually stimulating lady and mother of his three children, in order to offer the ultimate protection to another woman with little education and was in a deplorable domestic situation.  

We are fortunate to receive a manuscript with complete bilingual texts from translator Cheng Jiahui.  For our coming issues, we might select a few more to reveal much dramatic truth as lived by Liang Zongdai with his passion, and also gracious understanding later on, from his second wife 沉樱, who could have taken it as a dejection but instead, transformed it into a blessing and became a prolific translator/publisher on her own in Taiwan.  

Our translator,  Professor Cheng Jiahui 程家惠 has a dashing and daring style, most fitting to Kenneth Rexroth's remark as "an all-out advocate".  I particularly love his treatment of last 3 lines in the original: "All will wither and fade, be it red or yellow. Hold infinity in hand, and eternity in the hollow"

Ash Wednesday  

by T.S. Eliot 

 

I.

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Because I do not hope to know again
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink**
There, where trees flower, and springs flow,

      for there is nothing again

 

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessed face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us.

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

《聖灰星期三》-

-- translator  S. Ye Laird  叶澍苍 释译 *

I.

因为我不再乞求变卦
因为我不乞求
因为我不乞求变卦
渴望拥有此人的天才和彼人的天赋
我不再努力不再费心于這些琐事
(为何老鷹必然想要展開翅膀?)
為什麼我必需哀悼
人权,人命与人性的自然完了?
因为我不再乞望我能洞解 
浩渺的历史时流 
因为我无心思考 
因为我知道我永远无法领悟 
唯一的千变万化的神通 
因为我无能化缘** 
在彼岸,树木开花,春泉叮咚, 
在彼岸,万事不复,万物皆空。 

 

因为我知道时空永远是时空 
故土终归只是故土 
事故若为真,必仅有一回 
也尽在一方 
我开心于千事依旧万物自然 
我不求红脸的关公 
也不怕黑脸的张飞 
因为我不再乐意改造我的本性 
自然而然我欣喜若狂,尽心尽意标新立异 
神游于我的世外桃源,怡然自乐无穷稚趣。 

我只求菩萨勒令道长多存怜悯之心 
只求我能够忘却或超脱 
千情百酬中的自相矛盾 
因为我不肯回首 
且让我的言语答应 
好事多磨,何苦无事生非, 
但愿裁决之甲不得以压抑我等俗人。 

原来 此翼已不再是比翼双飞之翼 
而仅仅是落魄的苟延残喘 
空气稀薄又干燥 , 比意念还要渺小 
我们由此领悟到 无所不在的关怀 
无念的屏息静坐。 

请为我等罪人祈禱,   此刻及死神降临之时 
请为我祈祷, 此刻及临终之际。

* "Ash Wednesday" was T.S. Eliot's first long poem, composed and published during the years 1927 - 1930. "Perch' Io non Spero" (part I of "Ash-Wednesday") was published in the Spring, 1928 issue of Commerce along with a French translation. I do not know if there was ever a complete Chinese translation of Part I.  I started this translation in 2012, just before the Lent.  This line 'Because these wings are no longer wings to fly...' gave me a long pause. I didn't pick up the translation until recently when I encountered this writing Grasping for Grace: The Strangeness and Difficulty of Faith in T.S. Eliot’s “Ash Wednesday : "Without wings, there is no transcendence, no salvation. With this in mind, I read Part I of the poem as depicting the radical loss of hope that comes when we rely only on what is earthly and human. Renouncing the “blessed face” is the equivalent of clipping our wings and accepting defeat." 

** here 'Drink' as the act of partaking of the consecrated elements is translated to 化缘, in buddhism, to beg for alms; to collect alms.